Here’s an interesting piece of the Afghanistan-Pakistan plan that President Obama rolled out today: He plans to set up a new special inspector general for Afghanistan and include “robust investments” in his budget to combat corrupt misuse of foreign aid (in the words of deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough).
However, Obama’s full budget won’t be sent to Congress until April — just as lawmakers are wrapping up their own spending plans. So any substantial spending on anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan may have to come as part of a supplemental war funding request that the administration sends to the Hill later this spring.
George Stephanopoulos, reading the tea leaves on Obama’s strong anti-corruption focus, sees it as a kiss-off to Afghan President Hamid Karzai:
Obama appears to have given up on Hamid Karzai. In recent months, US officials have soured on the Afghan President for his inability to battle corruption and get a handle on his government. (Vice President Biden had an especially tough meeting with Karzai on his latest visit). Today Obama not only failed to praise Karzai by name, he also said the Afghan people deserve a more “capable and accountable” government not “undermined by corruption.” Will that weaken or strengthen Karzai’s hand as August elections approach?